Mind over Madness … Joffre Falls, Karijini National Park

Last Updated on May 26, 2019 by Red Nomad OZ

Joffre Falls, Karijini National Park, Western Australia
Joffre Falls, Karijini National Park, Western Australia

The edge of the gorge was no place for a recovering acrophobic*.

Despite its well-made viewing platform with solid handrails, the lookout overhung the sheer drop to the Joffre River far below, many more metres than I wanted to count**.

I don’t think I’ll EVER get used to being on an overhang …

But weirdly, the scare-factor just added to the attraction of Joffre Falls Karijini – a dramatic corner of the wild and remote Karijini National Park, deep in the heart of the RED Pilbara.

Did I say RED? Make that BEYOND red …

Earlier in the day the staggering view from the Oxer Lookout, at the junction of the Weano, Hancock, Joffre and Red Gorges, certainly gave its claim as Australia’s most spectacular a RED HOT go.

And a further scare-factor with the memorial to a guide killed by flash-flooding in 2004 while rescuing an injured hiker.

View from Oxer Lookout - where 4 Gorges meet! Karijini National Park, Western Australia
View from Oxer Lookout – where 4 Gorges meet! Karijini National Park, Western Australia

No, magnificent though it was, Karijini National Park wasn’t exactly a safe place.

And now we’d made our way upstream to the spectacular amphitheatre of the Joffre Falls crashing over the edge, plummeting down to the Joffre River below and carving the Joffre Gorge through the geometrical red, RED rock of its walls.

Seated at Joffre Gorge, WA
Seated at Joffre Gorge, WA

I ‘rested’ my hands on the guardrail in the white-knuckled grip of the not-yet-fully-cured acrophobic and tried not to think of the gaping chasm beneath as I gazed across the void to the sheer walls on the other side.

Little Corellas (the white spots in the photos) fluttered in and out of their roosting spots on the rocky ledges high above the ground. Or below the ground, depending on ones viewpoint …

Joffre Gorge Hikers, Karijini NP, WA
Joffre Gorge Hikers, Karijini NP, WA

My keen eye detected another movement directly opposite.

There were people on the cliff.

About half-way up, a young woman perched on a rocky ledge sloping towards the edge called out to the – OMIGOD – the people BENEATH!!!

I leaned over the railing to take a photo – possibly proof that acrophobia IS all in the mind – and saw them far below picking their way back along the narrow rocky ledge from the falls.

What were they thinking?

Hikers at Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia
Hikers at Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Maybe the steep, sloping rocky platforms looked worse than they really were from this angle.

Maybe climbing up rocks as big as houses tilting towards the ravine was fun.

Climbing Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia
Climbing Joffre Gorge, Karijini National Park, Western Australia

Maybe to non-acrophobics the Joffre Falls Karijini walk was actually ‘Easy’.

Or maybe the walkers were just plain mad.

That’s what I thought before Pilchard pointed out the trail markers.

That’s what I thought AFTER Pilchard pointed out the trail markers.

And that’s what I still think now!!

Discretion may well be the better part of valour***. But sometimes I’m more inclined to agree that cowardice is the better part of discretion****!

* Acrophobia = fear of heights

** This cutesy phrase really means I couldn’t find the exact depth of the Gorge!

*** William Shakespeare (Henry IV part 1)

**** Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (although some will doubtless attribute it to Douglas Adams)

The RED Dust of Karijini National Park!
The RED Dust of Karijini National Park!

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    1. It’s an extraordinary National Park, Mallee – but the RED dust is even redder than the NT, if that’s possible!!! Tragically, there’s been talk of opening up part of Karijini NP for mining – so see it while you can!!!

  1. @River – Hahaha!! I wouldn’t want to drop ANYTHING into that water – I think it’s a lot deeper than it looks!!
    @PDP – HHHMMMmmm… it’s SO easy to be brave from afar!! Although wanting to get a great shot is starting to override my natural caution (aka ‘cowardice’)!
    @Betty – Aren’t you sweet!! But did it occur to you I just make my life sound adventurous and exciting??!!

  2. well, you write the greatest travel reviews!
    and your photos are extremely beautiful! love those red mountains!

    oh red, i wish i could live a life full of adventure and excitment like yours!

    big hugs.

  3. OMG you are a much braver woman than I Red, there is no way in a month of Sundays that I could even attempt to lean over for that shot and as for the rock climbers, mad doesn’t even come close!! Fantastic images here, bravo!!!!!

  4. Here’s what really happened. The woman dropped her car keys/camera/phone/lipstick (pick one) and made them climb down to get it…

    Fabulous photos but there’s no way I’d be leaning out too far or climbing up or down.

    The calendars arrived safely last week, I’ll be hanging mine next to my Loo.

  5. Wow! So terrifyingly beautiful!! I have yet to see these wonders but when I do, I think i will have trouble even leaning over the edge of fence to get photos….will make my toes go funny:)
    Gorgeous shots and great to share some of your adventures.

  6. @Filip – Hahaha! The lawn got a coating of red mud when we got home a few weeks later & washed the car!
    @Rose – Hey, that’s not ME in the pix!! I’m just the gutless wonder hanging over the fence!!!
    @Emille – WAAAAY many RED mountains down here!! Come down & see them sometime …
    @Aleah – I’m glad I didn’t see anyone take an accidental swim!! And the whole experience makes me realise there’s MANY people out there WAAAAAY braver than I!

  7. @Jill – Its beauty is a little deadly, especially for the overconfident. And looking at my pix makes ME want to return!
    @Imagebloke – Thank you! It’s a pleasure to live here!!!
    @Are We There Yet – Somehow, I think my part was the EASY part!!
    @Kath – I try to give good fear-factor; I’m starting to get good-shot-fear-override, but is that a good thing??!!
    @FruitCake – And not a bakery in sight …
    @lorik – Having the scare factor so high is strangely part of the attraction. Can you tell I took those pix one-handed??!!

  8. Wow, I love red mountains! This year in summer went to Bryce Canyon and Zion Nat. park in Utah, where the rocks, are also red! Only I hardly climbed, because I was too busy getting what I saw on canvas!
    Awesome pics!!

  9. Great post Red. Yes Karijini is a fantastic place – the scenery is spectacular! But it can be very dangerous as well. People should be well aware of their own limitations when venturing into the gorges, and don’t be talked into doing something they are not comfortable with.
    I love Karijini, and your photos have made me want to go back and visit again.
    and thanks for visiting my blog today. cheers

  10. What an amazing place. Didn’t realize how high those cliffs are until I saw the climbers, small dots they are. Also the water at the bottom is really deep and crystal clear. Beautiful photos.

  11. @Taken for Granted – The cliffs didn’t look that big from across the chasm either. I didn’t even notice the hikers until they moved!!
    @Dave & Shell – Thanx! and Welcome back!! I’m with you on the heli flight thing – I’ve done a couple and they scare me rigid – but the view is so great!!
    @Glen – Hahaha! I’d like to see you try …
    @diane b – I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that!!!

  12. @Carole M – Weirdly, they didn’t seem to be taking photos – but maybe I’m the only one with a surgically attached camera!
    @Fun60 – Well, you can imagine what the reality was like!! Just watching them gave me the cold shivers …
    @Andrew – If it’d been me, I’d have fallen in!!
    @SFlaGuy – You might have to BYO lawyer, though!!!
    @Sallie – I scare myself when I look back on my pix sometimes!! Even more than looking in the mirror!!!

  13. fabulous location; great photographs and I’m with you Red. Hiking around the cliff-face like that would be NO thrill for me. Imagine the photographs they could’ve taken though … wonder how long they walked like that? Hopefully it was easier to navigate than it appeared from where you were.

  14. Hi Red,
    Amazing photo’s Love them!
    I used to be very scared of heights until our trip to America last year & we took a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon – yes I was scared & did feel sick But now iam am ok with heights because I am on land! if that makes sense 🙂

    Cheers shell

  15. “Luckily” it was rather rainy when we visited, so no one (aka Spouse) could try to force me into such places, uhhhh heights!
    Great to see it now anyhow, thanks a lot!
    Great pics 🙂

  16. Wow, what an awesome place to visit. I think I could look over the railing but would say no to the climbing. I am just too clumsy.The red rock gorge is beautiful. Looks like you were able to take some rock dust home with you. Wonderful post and I enjoyed the photos.

  17. Obviously you are not awash in lawyers down under as we are in South Florida. That “Marked Trail” would have them lined up around the block just waiting for someone to slip. I guess if I want to continue my daredevil life I need to make the move South.

  18. @Jane & Lance – Ha! If only the OZ tourism board shared your confidence!!! And the REAL crazies are the ones who actually hiked the gorge …
    @TMWH – Haha! Cowardice is SO underrated!! My cowardice kept me on the safe viewing platform – I let others do the hard yards!!
    @Iris – Wow! I’d love to be there in the rain to see the falls flowing more strongly!! But that would mean RED mud instead of RED dust!! Pilchard knew better than to suggest we do THAT walk …
    @Windsmoke – Thank you!! It’s virtually impossible to take a bad shot – if you can shoot around the late afternoon shadows!!

  19. I salute you for getting these intense photos! I would have dropped the camera out of fear, or nausea, of the perceived precariousness of my perch.

    And yes, cowardice IS the better part of discretion!

  20. Hello Red:
    You are a NATIONAL TREASURE!!!! Well, who else would have been prepared to hang over a gorge such as this in order to bring these incredible photographs to their readers? You are selfless or , perhaps, crazy, we cannot yet decide which!!! But, what we do know is that this is the most remarkable of places and is certainly RED!!!!

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